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Pequea Valley boys soccer coach Robbie Martin stepped down last week after the team’s annual banquet. It was reported that assistant Matt Graham will also step down. In nine seasons under Martin, the Braves went 144-86-11, won two section titles, three district titles and a state title in 2012.

While those numbers are highly impressive, any former or active high school coach will tell you that there is a lot more to coaching teenagers than simply winning. What is even more impressive is the way Martin’s players (past and present) respect him for doing more than putting a good product on the pitch.

If you want to know what Martin has to say about stepping down, I would direct you to his comments in this Lancaster Online article.

However, I think the best way to gauge a coach is to ask his players about him after he is gone. I reached out to two Pequea Valley players, one current and one past, that played under Martin during his tenure.

Joel Hoover, a 2011 Pequea Valley graduate, played for Martin from 2007-10. Hoover is also Martin’s nephew and was around the team well before his high school years.

“Robbie would let me be a ball boy for the senior high team and even let me come to their preseason practices when I was in middle school,” he said. “I would come home barely able to walk.”

The four years that Hoover played for Martin weren’t the most successful but he insisted that his coaching style didn’t waver.

“He never stopped working to help us improve and light a fire under us. Whether it was day one of preseason or halftime of a big match; he wanted to motivate us to be our best.”

Hoover went on to talk about Martin on a more personal level.

“He loved having a group of guys who he could crack jokes with and get to know.” he said. “He still has graduated players come over for dinner.”

While Martin stepping down is the attention grabber, Hoover was quick to point out the importance of Matt Graham as well.

“Coach Graham deserves credit too because he's been with the program even longer and made sure that we were one of the fittest teams in the league with all the running he gave us.”

“Robbie loves Pequea Valley very much, and will ensure that the program will be in good hands. He's one of the best the program has ever had, and I'm proud to call him my teacher, coach, uncle, and friend.”

Kodi Lawrence is a sophomore forward for the currently Pequea Valley squad and described his two seasons playing under Martin.

“I was so lucky to have such a fantastic coach my first two years with Pequea Valley,” he said. “It's sad to hear that he is stepping down, but if he feels like it is the right time, then it's the right time.”

Lawrence was a part of the state championship team last year and scored the game winning goal against Lancaster Mennonite in the District Three quarterfinals this year.

“Just in the two years I've played for him we've won over 40 games, a section title, a district championship and a state championship. I can't thank him enough for those memories” he said. “He's done so much for the program and he put Pequea Valley on the map. Just look at his accomplishments.”

It sounds like the Pequea Valley program isn’t just losing a coach but a friend, mentor and teacher as well.

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